May 8, 2004
The Empire Strikes Out
By BEN MACINTYRE
LONDON — This week the world learned that the United States Army has been investigating more than 30 claims of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2002. So far, officials have found a catalog of "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the hands of American captors. This horrible scandal represents the most serious crisis for the coalition since the war on terrorism began. Occupation inevitably creates resentment; but humiliation fosters outright rebellion, and winning back the moral high ground after this calamity is far more important than reasserting control in Falluja or in the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan.
Yes, we were beginning to realize what had happened at Abu Ghraib and what that implied. Y'all DO remember Abu Ghraib, right?
"Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence toward prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."
Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee
May 7, 2004
"I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture … I don't know if it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word."
May 4, 2004
May 6, 2004
Inspector says he warned U.S. officials of Iraqi prisoner abuse
By BOB GIBSON
Media General News Service
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- David Kay, the man who led the U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, says he repeatedly told people about problems with the interrogation of prisoners, but the military ignored him.
"I was there and I kept saying the interrogation process is broken. The prison process is broken. And no one wanted to deal with it," Kay said. "It was too, too distasteful. This is a known problem, and the military refuses to deal with it."
From a diary by Plutonium Page at Daily Kos (Sunday, May 8, 2005):
If you are unfamiliar with the situation in DR Congo, this link will give you some background information.
And, here's the story, from the pages of Ms. Magazine, about what has happened to the women there:
It took Thérèse Mwandeko a year to save the money. She knew she could walk the first 40 kilometers of her journey, but would need to pay for a lift for the last 20.
So she traded bananas and peanuts until she'd saved $1.50 in Congolese francs, then set out for Bukavu. She walked with balled-up fabric clenched between her thighs, to soak up blood that had been oozing from her vagina for two years, since she had been gang-raped by Rwandan militia soldiers who plundered her village in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Finally, she arrived at Panzi Hospital.
Here, Thérèse takes her place in line, along with 80 women, waiting for surgery to rebuild her vagina. Dr. Denis Mukwege, Panzi's sole gynecologist and one of two doctors in the eastern Congo who can perform such reconstructive surgeries, can repair only five women a week. The air is thick with flies. It reeks from women with fistula: rips in the vaginal wall where rape tore out chunks of flesh separating the bladder and rectum from the vagina. Yet Thérèse, 47, is happier than she's been in years.
"Until I came here, I had no hope I could be helped," she says.
Across the DRC are tens of thousands of women like this: physically ravaged, emotionally terrorized, financially impoverished. Except for Thérèse and a few fortunate others, these women have no help of any kind: Eight years of war have left the country in ruins, and Congolese women have been victims of rape on a scale never seen before.
The article goes on to mention that rape is used as a weapon, a very powerful weapon. Men are raped as well as women.
STATEMENT OF SENATOR BARBARA BOXER
FISCAL YEAR 2006 BUDGET CONFERENCE REPORT
Mr. President, I oppose this budget and will vote against it. All of my colleagues should. It sets the wrong priorities. It breaks promises to the American people. And it is the height of fiscal irresponsibility.
Let me begin with the priorities. The priorities of the American people are not the priorities of this budget.
It is quite clear what the priorities of this budget are: tax cuts for the wealthy. In just one year, this budget provides a tax cut for millionaires totaling $32 billion.
Meanwhile, education funding is cut almost $1 billion below the services we are providing now. A total of 48 education programs are eliminated. The promise that was made in the No Child Left Behind Act is broken by $12 billion. Mr. President, we should be increasing our commitment to our children, not cutting it.
Veterans programs – for those brave men and women who served our country and are currently serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan – are cut $500 million. As more and more veterans return to this country, the demands on the VA system will only grow. This budget ignores them.
He was quoted on May 6, 2005, but this was Goldwater in 1981 - perhaps more relevant now than ever:
"I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism."
Barry Goldwater, September 16, 1981
Gannon comes out: Former escort, conservative reporter grilled on White House visits
Published: Friday May 5, 2006
Gannon backs outing of Virginia congressman
WASHINGTON – At a forum in Philadelphia Wednesday evening, the conservative White House correspondent who drew national attention for his past life as a gay escort declared himself gay publicly for the first time, and finally answered questions about discrepancies in the logs of his trips to the White House.
¡No me digas!
Saturday, May 06, 2006
The primary reason organizations like the Minutemen pose a threat to our national well-being is not that they pose an immediate prospect of vigilante violence.
It's that they represent the mainstreaming of far-right appeals to anti-immigrant sentiments, especially the demonization of Latinos as the problem. The more people like the Minutemen are beating this drum, the more it will be picked up as legitimate by people in the mainstream, including those in positions of authority and influence.
I was among those in Grace Cathedral electing Marc Andrus as the next Bishop of California. Headlines trumpeted relief that neither the gay nor the lesbian candidate was elected. For most of us in the Diocese of California sexuality was just not an issue in electing. *rolls eyes*
There's Something Truly You-Know-What About This Story
Bush claims he caught a 7 1/2 pound perch* in his very own lake.
Yeah, right. Gotta picture? But just for the sake of argument, let's say it's true (but see below). He really did catch that large a fish and that was his happiest moment in five years. Does he realize what this says about him and his presidency?
With all the daily opportunities available to do such good for your fellow country-folk, and the world, the only thing Bush specifically mentioned that made him happy is catching a big fish. In his own lake. Which could very well be deliberately stocked with big fish.
There are, imo, only three ways to understand this comment, assuming it's true. Quite possibly it's the pathetic whine of a deeply, perhaps clinically. depressed man who believes himself a total failure. Or maybe this is a man so uninterested in his job, let alone in serving his country, that he has no business whatsoever being president. Or perhaps this is simply an arrogant bastard who holds in utter contempt anyone who dares to ask him a question, so he responds with the stupidest thing he can say. (Obviously, nothing precludes all three or some combination of two.)
To be all pre-emptive about it, someone's bound to comment that maybe this just shows how much of a down-to-earth regular guy Bush is. Yeah? All the down-to-earth regular guys I know don't have their own lake, fer chrissakes. Those people are filthy rich, even if they wear jeans on their estates. But there's a character thing here, too. The down-to-earth people I know who hold important jobs are mighty proud of of what they do and mighty happy with their achievements. And they can tick them off without thinking too hard about what they might be. And, even as a joke, they don't talk about catching a big perch when a newspaper asks them to name their best moment in more than five years. They name their accomplishments. Or, if they're trying to play up the down-to-earthiness, they name their children or something they did with their spouse.
BP CEO LORD BROWNE'S FORMER KEPT BOY LETS IT ALL OUTHmm. British Petroleum CEO and a rent boy in the headlines at the same time. My goodness, things don't change, do they? Just a shift in the partners.
Lord Browne, who resigned as head of British Petroleum last week, found himself at the center of an unraveling scandal after it was revealed that he had not been truthful under oath when discussing how he met his 25-year-old boyriend Jeff Chevalier. Browne had said he met Chevalier while exercising in Battersea Park when the escort site Suited and Booted might have been a more truthful answer.
Wolfowitz On the Way Down
Tue May 08, 2007 at 05:40:21 AM PDT
For weeks now, Paul Wolfowitz has been following the patented Bush administration script for dealing with scandal: just ignore it, pretend you've done nothing wrong, and wait for people to lose interest. For a few days there, it looked like it might work. Wolfowitz announced that he was going to stay, Bush Xeroxed the standard memo of support, and the Mighty Wurlitzer whipped up a tune to explain away the peach job and plump raise given Wolfie's girlfriend.
But the World Bank is not the Justice Department, or the Defense Department, or any of the other branches of government where the administration could employ CIA-approved non-torture techniques to get employees to go along with embattled Bush appointees. There's a new report out to highlight Wolfowitz's ethical lapses, and it's turning out to be a lot harder to lean on the World Bank's international crew than it was on Rumsfeld's military. The Bush administration can tell the World Bank employees to sit down and shut up, but those employees -- and the governments who sent them -- don't have to listen. However, they are prepared to be generous.
THEY KNEW: Tenet's Book Reveals 9-11 Perjury
Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:14:05 PM PDT
George Tenet's new book, At the Center of the Storm, reveals something extremely important about events in the final weeks before 9/11. For the first time, the former CIA Director admits he flew to Crawford in late August, just weeks before the attack by al-Qaeda cells known to be in the U.S., and briefed President George W. Bush personally about the threat.
This briefing followed a CIA PDB read to the President on August 6 in a meeting with Harriet Miers, then the President's lawyer, and an emergency meeting between Tenet and Condi Rice on July 10 on the same subject.
It also reveals that in order to cover up the last meeting, Tenet committed perjury before the 9/11 Commission when he denied meeting with Bush in the month before the attack. According to the White House website, Bush met in Crawford with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condi Rice, and the present and former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Generals Meyers and Pace, on August 24, 2001.
Pharmaceutical Industry buys US Senate (again)
Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:35:13 AM PDT
Yesterday Democratic and Independent Senators attempted to pass legislation that would have allowed consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries cheaper than here.
By a 49 to 40 vote the Senate required the Administration (the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS) to certify the safety and effectiveness of those drugs before they are imported. Well that makes sense, right? Wrong.
The 49 Senators who voted to ensure that overseas drugs would be safe know damn well that Michael Leavitt, Secretary of HHS is vehemently against the importation of drugs. Therefore, requiring HHS to guarantee the safety of these drugs is the equivalent of killing the amendment. Pretty clever really. By voting to ensure our "safety" they make themselves look great and simultaneously give the pharmaceutical industry everything they paid them for. Only in America.
Everybody was counting delegates to see who would be the party candidates in the 2008 election. I did not see enough catchy quotables, so am skipping that year.
Oh, and I was working 10-12 hours a day in New Orleans.
What "oversight" means in Washington
Since last September, the Federal Reserve has increased its balance sheet by more than $1 trillion, and has engaged in even much larger amounts of off-balance-sheet transactions. In January of this year, freshman Rep. Alan Grayson repeatedly asked Federal Reserve Vice chairman Donald Kohn the identity of the companies which had received those loans, only to be told that the Fed had no obligation and no desire to disclose that information to Congress. That obviously leads to the question of who exerts oversight over the Fed and the vast amounts of money it transfers.
And now we are hoping Congress will do something about oversight of the financial industry to guarantee transparency and thwart corruption. I would feel more optimistic if Congress were not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporatocracy. Well, not "wholly" as in 100% but close enough.
I am a proud supporter of Rep. Grayson and a handful of other progressives.
SLDN accuses Obama of caving to religious right on military ban
by John Aravosis (DC) on 5/10/2009 07:32:00 PM
Harsh words from a gay rights organization. It's a rare gay, or more generally liberal, organization that has the nerve to speak up when they think a Democrat is doing the wrong thing. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has been rather outspoken in its concerns about the way this administration is approaching the issue of the military's gay ban. This release, below, is one of the harshest I've ever seen from a progressive organization.
WASHINGTON, DC - When asked this morning on This Week with George Stephanopoulos if "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be overturned, the president's national security advisor, General Jones, responded, "I don't know."
Well, we're still waiting on this one.
Why Now, Dick?:
Now that it has realized that it can absorb sunlight without ulcerating too quickly, the acidic pollutant-made-flesh known as former Vice President Dick Cheney believes it can appear at will to forcibly spit forth fungal spores into the media atmosphere, parasitically attaching to those who it once spurned, feeding off them to hopefully infect them to make them rot. For, indeed, Dick Cheney is nothing if not an entity that wishes things to collapse from within, like a gutted corpse.
And he still has not shut up. Plus he has Baby Dick to shill for him (as if she had any serious credentials).
The argument against torture is slipping away from us. In fact, I'm getting the sinking feeling that it's over. What was once taboo is now publicly acknowledged as completely acceptable by many people. Indeed, disapproval of torture is now being characterized as a strictly partisan issue, like welfare reform or taxes.
Le sigh. Le grand sigh.
FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010, was a beautiful day in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am going to be planting vegetables on Saturday and brunching with a friend for my natal festivity. Sunday another friend and my baby sister are coming to my home for brunch. (They have to admire my garden in order to be fed, of course. Unconditional love is one thing but unconditional feeding: not so much.)
May you all have a blessed weekend. May the intercessions of Dame Julian help you remember that "All shall be well."
I have worshiped many times in the space where this icon hangs, the chapel at CDSP. She invites us into the depths of God's love.
Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.